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Lesson 32 - Stripping


Floor stripping is the operation by which old floor finish is removed. It is a multiple step process which may require going over the floor completely several times. It takes plenty of water, a good stripper or wax remover, and lots of effort. Consequently, it should be done only when no easier method can do the job satisfactorily, and when it is done, it should be done correctly.


Floor finishes become old and worn. In order to renew the floor finish, the old wax must be removed. If the old wax is not removed, wax will tend to build up in the least used areas. Wax build-up tends to discolor the floor. The old wax accumulations of dirt are removed in two ways:

  1. By the chemical action of the stripper
  2. By the physical action of your scrubbing machine as it moves back and forth over the floor

You will have no problems except where there may be an excessive build-up of wax. These areas may be along the walls, in the corners, or under a piece of furniture. When you have completed your scrubbing and find wax remaining in any of the above mentioned areas, simply repeat the stripping operation on these specific areas.

Good rinsing is a must, not only to remove soil, but to remove excessive or remaining cleaning agents as well. A good rinse will enable your wax, or floor finish, to get a better bond to the floor. It will eliminate slipperiness and greatly improve appearance and durability.

Be sure to inspect your floor carefully after stripping. Make sure all old wax and dirt are removed, check for streaks, and look over the baseboards to make sure they are clean as the floor. Only after completely checking your floor should you proceed and apply the wax. Always apply your wax, or finish, in very thin coats as this will give you a hard, waterproof finish that will not require polishing after application. Your finish or wax will dry rapidly, clear in color, without streaking, and resist dirt and soils rather than absorbing it. Waxing in this manner will enable you to surface-clean and patch-wax your floors many times between stripping.


We strip the floors as needed. The average time for two men to strip 700 square feet is one hour. As time goes on, it may be improved to several thousand square feet in open areas.


  1. dust mop (treated)
  2. putty knife
  3. counter brush
  4. dust pan
  5. waste pick-up cart
  6. 2 mop pails
  7. Wringer
  8. 3 wet mop (24 oz.)
  9. 2 wet floor signs
  10. floor machine with brush or pad holder
  11. stripping pad, same size as machine
  12. 2 synthetic hand pads
  13. wet vac and necessary attachments

The 3 mops should be numbered (1) for cleaner, (2) for rinse and (3) for waxing. Never interchange these mops in buckets.


1. Remove the furniture:
Move all furniture from the room or area to be stripped. If this is not possible, move it to one side of the room, or out of the way as much ass possible. Later after stripping the cleared side, move the furniture over and strop the remaining side, which should be the side closest to the door.

2. Dust area:
This is the time to give the area/room a good heavy dusting or terminal cleaning. Dust down the ceilings, walls or if you wish, have the walls washed and spot cleaned.

3. Dust mop floor area:
Dust mop floor area with a treated mop, remove gum etc, with your putty knife. Remove accumulated soil with dust pan and counter brush.

4. Prepare stripping solution:
Fill both buckets 3/4 full of very warm water. This will be approximately six gallons in each pail. To the stripping solution pail, add stripping chemical per manufacturer's instructions. Place wringer on the rinse pail and you are ready for business.

5. Start stripping operation by cutting in section to be stripped:
Start at the far corner of the room, or the corner opposite the exit or door from which you plan to leave.

Use mop number one for the stripping solution. Never use it in any other pail.

To fill the mop, agitate in bucket of solution; the lift the mop out of the solution, hold it over the bucket and allow the excess solution to drain off the mop.

Work in small sections first. If the area to be cleaned is completely open and all goes well you may double the size of section.

Apply the stripping solution to the floor. With the first strokes of the mop, cut the section to be stripped.

To avoid slopping the baseboards, make the first stroke parallel to the baseboards and about 12 inches away. Then make the second stroke along the baseboard itself.

6. Mop section with side to side strokes:
Start at the far end of the section from the buckets and walking backwards while mopping from side to side, use rhythmic strokes whenever possible. Be sure to overlap strokes. Technique is important. Stand with feet 18 to 24 inches apart, one foot slightly behind the other, and keep back straight. Keep mop in continuous motion by making C-curves at the end of each stoke. To reverse directions, shift body weight from foot to foot and help swing the mop. Always pass mop head close to feet and keep elbows close to body. Step backwards as mop approaches your foot and keep the heel of the mop on the floor and the strands well spread.

7. Turn mop over occasionally:
Mop should be turned two or three times per mop-full of solution for best use. Turn it at stoke end away from baseboard or furniture. Instead of making a C-curve, turn, lift mop and loop or twist it over the strands.

8. Allow stripper time to work:
After stripping solution has been applied evenly over the floor, allow it to set for at least five minutes. During the period you will notice the wax being re-emulsified and floating to the surface. Some areas where the old wax is the heaviest or thickest, the solution may become completely absorbed. You may notice it turning white and become dry; re-wet these areas with more stripping solution. Keep the solution spread evenly over the floor during this waiting period. The floor must stay wet with solution at all times.

9. Prepare the floor machine:
Fit on the scrubbing brush or stripping pad as directed by tilting machine back and straddling the handle to attach to the drive unit. Adjust the handle so it can be held comfortably just below the waist.

10. Scrub the floor with machine:
Move machine onto the area covered with stripping solution and starting at the far end where the solution was first laid, work backwards to the dry area.

The beginning stroke should be started with the machine directly in front of the operator, to establish control. A six foot stroke is best.

Move the machine slowly from side to side. Do not dig pad into the floor or change direction quickly.

Most machines rotate counterclockwise, so move machine to the right by raising the handle slightly, and move to the left by lowering the handle slightly.

To achieve a uniformly clean floor you must not miss any areas with the machine. For this reason, we suggest that you follow a row of tile with one edge of your machine as you move across the floor; then return again over the same path. Work slowly and give the machine a chance to rotate as many times as possible and scrub the soil from the floor. Step back about 3 inches less that the width of the floor machine, select a new row of tile to follow and proceed. Sometimes, you may have to go over the floor a second time in the opposite direction to get rid of the hills and valleys caused by uneven flooring.

Black marks or hard to remove spot may be removed by heeling the machine over or holding it on the edge of the brush.

It is a very good idea to work the edges in a parallel motion with the machine. This will help to eliminate lap marks and give you extra time over the edge where the wax builds up.

11. Clean baseboards and corners:
Now is the time to clean the baseboards, filing cabinet bottoms, bottom of doors and all corners. The second man can be doing this while the first is operating the machine. Use a synthetic hand pad dipped in stripping solution. Be sure your pad is not scratching the finish of the object being cleaned; use a finer grade pad if needed.

12. Remove the floor machine:
Move out of the area just scrubbed with the floor machine. Take all attachments and cords completely out of the way.

13. Pick up soil and cleaning solution:
Roll water pick up vacuum into scrubbed area and attach hose, handle and squeegee. Start working forward into the solution from the dry floor area. In this manner you are pulling the machine behind you, rather than backing into it all the time, getting tangled in the cord, etc. Operate the squeegee in 3 to 4 foot stokes.

14. Rinse the floor:
Move the rinse bucket onto the cleaned section and apply a liberal rinse of CLEAN WARM WATER (use mop number two).

Apply the rinse in the same way as the cleaning solution. Agitate with mop in several directions, this crisscrossing method will take care of any low spots, missed areas, etc.

15. Pick up rinse:
Pick up the rinse solution with the vacuum cleaner the same way the cleaning solution.

Wipe dry all baseboards, bottoms of equipment, doors, etc. Remove all cleaning equipment off the floor.

16. Damp mop the floor:
Agitate mop in rinse bucket several times, then wring dry, stake mop to loosen strands; then damp mop the area cleaned to remove footprints, cord marks, and possibly small amounts of water missed by vacuum.

17. Inspect the floor:
Carefully inspect the stripped area, baseboards, corners, cabinets or furniture not removed from the area. Be sure all old wax has been removed; check along the walls, spots where the furniture was set up, around doors, etc. Check for uniform color and complete wax removal.

Any and all imperfections should be corrected at this time. It takes only a few minutes to correct a problem now and make it a perfect job, but if you have to redo the job later it may take hours.

18. Return equipment to storage area:
Clean all equipment. Wash off both pails and wringer and wipe dry. Clean out mop heads and hang dry. Wipe cords and machines. Wash out brushes and floor pads and also hang dry. Rinse out vacuum tank, motor stand and shut off float, squeegee and hose.

Report any malfunction of machines so they can be repaired and ready for next time.

Most floor stripping chemicals are on the alkaline side of the pH scale. Do not use any solution with a pH level greater than 10.

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